Startup 360 is being touted as the first academic program of its kinds. Startup 360 is being touted as the first academic program of its kinds. Startup 360 is being touted as the first academic program of its kinds. (Photo: arka38/Shutterstock)

Want to work for a hot startup but need the skills?

First-of-its-kind MBA program teaches students how to invest in and run startup companies.

Thousands, if not millions, of people become involved with startups each year, but only a fraction have any understanding of the intricacies involved in making them successful.

Startup 360° is a new academic program that hopes to increase those odds. The MBA program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem teaches the necessary tools needed to launch startups or invest in them. Touted as the first such academic program of its kind, it includes lecturers from Harvard, MIT and Duke, and will partner with international tech firms like Google, Microsoft, Siemens.

During the first stage of the program, the students gain an academic understanding of startup practices from industry experts. In the second stage, the students receive roughly $10 million and with the support and mentorship of the program’s partners, they go through the entire investment cycle before deciding which startups to invest in.

Dr. Shai Harel is the Academic Director of the EMBA Program at Hebrew University. "I don't know of another program in the world that gives students such an amount of money to invest. This is actual money," he told From The Grapevine. "Usually studies are very theoretical, but in this program we try to be as practical as we can be. It's the real thing."

It makes sense that such a program would pop up in Israel. The country is considered a hotbed of innovation and has become known as "The Startup Nation" because of its high number of tech firms.

"I can think of only a few other places where a program like this would work," Harel said. "Boston, New York, Silicon Valley and maybe London. Israel's tech scene definitely offers the exposure necessary to succeed."

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has thrown his weight behind the cyber security incubator. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt visited Israel earlier this year and spoke highly of its tech culture. (Photo: Frederic Legrand - COMEO/Shutterstock)

Harel launched Startup 360° last year after a period of research turned up no similar programs in any academic institution.

"I realized there was nothing like this. Say you want to become an investment banker. There are plenty of degrees around the world, you can learn how to do that. But when I examined the [venture capital] industry I realized there was no course that taught you how to invest in startups," Harel explained. "A VC sees 1,000 startups a year and will invest in 5 or 6 of them. How do they get there?"

The program isn't just for investors, however. It provides instruction on all the gears that make a startup function. "Even if you don't want to invest, you may need to know how to manage a startup, or if you are a lawyer, the legal issues you'll need to deal with. We cover all of that," Harel told us.

The current Startup 360° program runs through the school's Executive MBA program. Individuals need to have five years of experience in the business world to be accepted. But it has been such a success that an international MBA program for less experienced students is to be launched next year.


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